The Killing of George Floyd:  Racism in a Country Living on Borrowed Time

Los Angeles, 31 May 2020, 2 AM

(No. XII in the series:  The Fact of Being Black:  History, Culture, Politics)


Police officer exercising “knee restraint” on George Floyd in Minneapolis, about 8:05 PM, Monday, 25 May 2020, frame from a video taken by a witness to the killing.

As I write this, nearly all of America’s largest cities are under curfew extending through the night into dawn. It is not even a week since George Floyd, a 46-year old African American male, died as he lay pinned to the ground by a white police officer.  Minneapolis, where the killing took place, has been roiled by protests for the last five days, and demonstrators have taken to the streets across the country, necessitating Continue reading

The National Imaginary: Patriots and the Virus in the West

(Eighth in a series of articles on the implications of the coronavirus for our times, for human history, and for the fate of the earth.)

Part III of “A Global Pandemic, Political Epidemiology, and National Histories”


A demonstration with around 2,500 people outside the state capitol in Washington against Governor Inslee’s stay-at-home order, April 19. Photo: Alex Milan Tracy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The contours of each country’s national history appear to be on display in the responses that have been witnessed across the world to the coronavirus pandemic.  However, in suggesting this, I do not by any means wish to be seen as subscribing to the ideas of distinct personality traits that were behind “the national character” studies undertaken in the 1940s, a project that involved Continue reading